News Won’t Find Me? Exploring Inequalities in Social Media News Use With Tracking Data

Lisa Merten, Nadia Metoui, Mykola Makhortykh, Damian Trilling, Judith Moeller


The rise of news content on social media has been accompanied by a hope that people with lower socioeconomic status and less interest in political affairs would be “accidentally” exposed to news. By combining tracking and survey data from a Dutch online panel (N = 413), we analyze how political interest, income, and education influence social media news exposure and consumption. Higher levels of political interest are associated with higher amounts of news exposure on Facebook and more news items consumed via social media. Users engage less often in news-related follow-up behavior after consuming news items via social media than after consuming news items referred via news websites. If social media news use seems to occur particularly for those who are already interested in current affairs and makes follow-up consumption less likely, the specificities of the social media ecosystems might accelerate rather than level inequalities in news use.


social media, news consumption, political interest, computational methods, survey, digital divide

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